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The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Chrysalids in the USA - or Buy The Chrysalids in the UK

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pub: Penguin. 200 page paperback. Price: 7.99 (UK), $16.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-141-03297-9.

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'The Chrysalids' is one of five of John Wyndham's book being re-issued by Penguin in September this year. It's also a story that I have a clear memory of having first heard it on the radio while I was recovering from a long illness when I was eleven. It was on 'Women's Hour', a Radio 2 programme, and always missed the intro because of an afternoon nap and it was never said at the end its source so I didn't know for a long time who wrote let alone the book's title. Saying that, it kept me riveted and probably contributed to my sustained interest in Science Fiction not to mention when I realised what it was when I was working my way through Wyndham's books a few years later.

Wyndham's reality is set after an apocalyptic atomic war and the evolution of new species of man possessing ESP was breaking out. Thing is, the now superstitious mankind saw them as belonging to the devil and were determined to eradicate them. This story follows the adventures of a group of teens making their escape from such danger.

In many respects this is a plot that has been played some by other authors before and since. What makes Wyndham's story unique is that these teens ESP isn't done in words but images. I haven't come across any other SF author taking that route since. I suspect mostly this is because in words images take up more space than 'telepathic speech' and Wyndham did it first.

If you've over-looked this book before, don't do so now. Its images will haunt you and certainly about time some production company thought of making a TV series out of its story.

GF Willmetts

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